ASU educator argues liberal arts degrees still relevant and thriving

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Nearly 2,000 Arkansas State University students celebrated years of hard work at graduation Saturday.

Now they are preparing to enter the full-time workforce in a time where jobs are harder to find.

Region 8 News has reported that the best fields to find jobs are education, health professions, business and engineering backgrounds. These are also the most popular majors at ASU.

However, the dean of Humanities and Social Sciences argues liberal arts degrees are not only still relevant, but thriving.

"Our liberal arts graduates have a fantastic record of getting into graduate school, getting into law school, performing well immediately in the job market," said Dr. Lauri Umansky, dean of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Dr. Umansky said these liberal arts graduates are not only excelling in their field, but also beyond some of the more popular fields, like education and health care.

"Here's the surprising thing: liberal arts majors and humanities majors actually earn more in the course of their career than college graduates in the more so-called practical fields, like business, nursing and so on," Umansky said. "Not immediately upon graduation, but at the peak earning period of their lives."

Dr. Umansky credits this success to liberal arts majors studying a broader curriculum.

"When you're educated as a generalist, you have more skills that can apply in more areas," Umansky said. "Some of the skills that you learn through liberal arts majors, like foreign language acquisition, are highly marketable. "

According to the Wall Street Journal, foreign language and literature majors are actually the highest paid liberal arts major, followed by English, Political Science and History majors, all earning more than $40,000 right out of college.

Dr. Umansky said it is important to look at the numbers and know which majors are more lucrative in the job market, but in the end, education comes down to learning what you love. 

"Study what interests you. Study what makes your heart and mind come alive and the job will follow," Umansky said.

Dr. Umansky said liberal arts courses are the basis of higher education so she argues the liberal arts are here to stay.   

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